Laetrile is often mistakenly called amygdala or vitamin B17. It consists rather of a medicine that contains purified tonsil, a compound found in the seeds or grains of many fruits.
Laetrile is the name of a medicine created in 1952, and is found naturally in the following foods:
- Nuts: bitter almonds and macadamia nuts.
- Vegetables: carrots, celery, beans and green beans.
- Seeds: millet, flax seeds and buckwheat.
It was a very popular cancer treatment in the 1970s. However, it was banned after science deemed it ineffective. Interestingly, there is some evidence that it could provide some health benefits.
Learn all about laetrile supplementation in order to know if it should be consumed.
Is it convenient to consume laetrile?
1.How does laetrile work in the body?
The body breaks down laetrile into three compounds: hydrogen cyanide, benzaldehyde and prunasin.
Hydrogen cyanide seems to be the main compound responsible for its health benefits. Certain enzymes in the body convert hydrogen cyanide into a less toxic molecule called thiocyanate. This molecule was previously used to treat blood pressure, as it can dilate blood vessels.
2.Why is it believed that Laetrile can help fight cancer?
There are several possible theories about how the laetrile can fight cancer, although these theories are not confirmed.
Two theories claim that cancer cells are rich in enzymes that convert laetrile into cyanide. This means that cancer cells can break down laetrile and eliminate cancer. However, until now there is no evidence that these cells contain the enzymes that help convert laetrile into cyanide.
Another theory suggests that cancer is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B17. However, no evidence shows that amygdalin is actually a vitamin or that it cannot be found naturally in the body.
3.What are the benefits of Laetrile?
Most research on laetrile focuses on its effect on cancer. Some studies have found that amygdalin, the natural form of laetrile, can have other benefits, such as the following:
3.1 Decrease in blood pressure
One study found that it is able to decrease systolic blood pressure (upper value) by 28% and diastolic blood pressure (lower value) by 25%. These effects were enhanced when taking vitamin C.
3.2 Can relieve pain
Several animal studies show that the Laetrile can relieve pain caused by inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. However, there is a lack of evidence based on people.
3.3 Can increase immunity
One study found that Laetrile improved the ability of immune cells to attach to prostate cancer cells. However, more studies should be conducted to support the health benefits before recommendations can be made applicable to the entire clinical population.
4.Why is laetrile called vitamin B17?
Vitamin B17 is often mislabeled as Laetrile. Actually, it is a patented drug that was invented by Dr. Ernst T. Krebs, Jr. in 1952.
During the 1970s, Dr. Krebs falsely claimed that all cancers are caused by a vitamin deficiency. He also claimed that laetrile was the missing vitamin in cancer, which he later named vitamin B17.
He probably labeled it as vitamin B17 to be classified as a nutritional supplement, rather than a medication.
5.Can Laetrile treat cancer?
In two animal studies, scientists treated a variety of cancers with laetrile alone or in combination with an enzyme that helps activate it. In both studies, the animals did not show any improvement after being treated with said substance.
Currently, only two studies have examined the effects of laetrile on cancer in people, although none compared it with a placebo treatment. Therefore, it is not clear if taking laetrile is better than not receiving any treatment.
In one study, 178 people with cancer were treated with laetrile. The scientists discovered that it did not have a significant effect on cancer. In fact, some people experienced cyanide poisoning.
In general, the evidence shows that taking laetrile is ineffective in the treatment of cancer. It is also very dangerous, as it has the potential to be highly toxic.
6.What are the side effects of laetrile?
Most of the following side effects are caused by excess hydrogen cyanide in the body.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Bluish skin caused by oxygen deprivation.
- Hepatic injury.
- Low blood pressure
7.What contraindications does Laetrile have?
The side effects, in addition, can be aggravated due to the following reasons:
- Taking laetrile as a pill, instead of as an injection.
- Eat raw almonds or crushed fruits while taking laetrile.
- Take too much vitamin C while taking laetrile.
- Eat fruits or vegetables that can increase the effects of Laetrile, such as carrots, celery and peaches.
Research shows that vitamin C can interact with laetrile and increase its toxic effects. Vitamin C accelerates the conversion of laetrile to hydrogen cyanide. It also depletes the body’s cysteine reserves, an amino acid that helps the body detoxify from hydrogen cyanide.
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